"Happy New Year! 2009" on the River Ros
On New Year's Day, Dominic and I walked down to the river to see how frozen it was. We found that it was frozen solid enough to safely support our weight and probably the weight of a small car. The ice had a soft blanket of snow on it and I was able to snap the above photo on this unusually sunny day under a clear blue sky.
Did Moroz handing out candy on New Year's Day in our neighborhood
We found Did Moroz wondering around our neighborhood handing out candy to children on their sleds. Our neighbor told us that this man dresses up as Did Moroz each year and does this on New Year's Day much to the delight of neighborhood children.
Maxime excited about getting a children's book of Bible stories
Maxime spent New Year's Eve in the village with his grandparents, but took the bus home in the morning. He came straight to our place where we gave him his gifts and loaded him up with some food. He was especially excited about the book of Bible stories in Ukrainian that we got him. He immediately took it and began reading it out loud to himself as Tanya and Kolya helped us prepare for the other guests that were on their way over. He laid on the couch reading Bible stories until everybody arrived for dinner.
Maxime busy reading Bible stories
We know it is difficult for Maxime to read and we know he struggles in school, but what some of our guests told us, broke our hearts. We had assumed that Maxime was only speaking simple Ukrainian to us because he was trying to help us to understand. We learned that he speaks this way to everyone. They told us that besides mixing in a lot of Russian words with his Ukrainian, Maxime speaks as though he were a small child just learning to speak who doesn't know how to use the right tenses or cases in normal speech. Dominic told us that Maxime showed him his grades at school and his highest grade in any of his classes was a 4 out of a possible 12. The sad part is that his teachers don't care. He will just go through school like this until it comes time to graduate and take exams. The result will be that he won't pass any of his exams and won't get any further education. He will most likely have to work with his father as a plumber when he is done with school. Joshua believes that Maxime might grow up to be a pastor some day. That would be a beautiful thing.
Celebrating Edna and Tanya's birthday on New Year's Day
When Olya broke out the sparklers, I didn't expect her to light them. She passed them around the table before I could bring myself to think of a polite objection to fireworks in our living room. I figured that since everybody was lighting sparklers at the table that they must know what they're doing. Of course, I was wrong. We ended up with a smoke filled room, holes burned through the table cloth and into the table, and a thick coating of what looked like black pepper all over our food and in our drinks. (Luckily the smoke alarm didn't go off, because there aren't any in Ukraine.) Everybody had a good time despite minor burns and smoke inhalation.
No, we didn't make Maxime work for food. He just loves to help out when he can.
We're happy that Maxime could be a part of the celebrations and spend the night with us. Hopefully he will be able to stay at our place over most of the holiday break.